I'm probably going to get hate mail for saying this, and I'll deserve every single bit of it, but prior to this pregnancy I didn't really believe that morning sickness existed.
As for hyperemesis gravidarum or acute morning sickness, well I was firmly of the opinion that it was something invented by delicate wallflowers who either don't eat properly or just aren't tough enough to cope with the many demands and indignities of pregnancy.
I know. I'd hate me too if I were you. If you've suffered from morning sickness then I apologise profusely, not just for my own ignorance but on behalf of others like me who gave you short shrift and didn't try to hide the fact that we thought you were putting it on a bit at best and, at worst, being just plain pathetic. With both of my boys I suffered from the tiniest smattering of nausea during pregnancies. But I never actually threw up, and my slightly sicky feeling certainly didn't impede my ability to keep food down. In fact it became the perfect excuse to eat every carbohydrate I could lay my hands on, which is quite a lot when you work in a building between a Starbucks and a low-brow sandwich bar which caters mainly for bread-loving builders.
So with this pregnancy when that first almighty wave of real morning sickness overwhelmed me I'll admit that I pretty much thought I was dying. (Now who's the delicate flower?) But this wasn't just a touch of a nausea or that vaguely ill feeling that has you reaching for the biscuits - it was an all-consuming sense of such utter sickness that I could barely breathe, never mind summon the will to eat something. And when I tried, my meal and I would be reunited within minutes.
For the first few days before my pregnancy was confirmed, dealing with this all day sickness was a bit discombobulating. Having never experienced anything like it during pregnancy before I had been under the mistaken impression that a third pregnancy would be like riding a bike - something you do without giving it much thought - sailing along on a cloud of confidence looking snazzy whilst rapt onlookers remark on how easy you make it all look.
By the time I took a pregnancy test and knew that the cause of my all-day puke-fest was indeed due to being with child (not being at death's door as I feared), I was literally weeping into my husband's lap and begging him to drive me to the doctor. He duly did so and the doc promptly likened me to Kate Middleton, whom I had scorned and scoffed at only a few weeks earlier when she was admitted to hospital with acute morning sickness. Talk about swallowing your words - and choking on them.
Yet more peeing into an impossibly tiny receptable revealed keytones present in my urine sample - a sign that you're dehydrated and your body is breaking down fat and muscle for energy - which had the doctor hastily writing me a prescription for anti-sickness drugs and threatening to admit me to hospital if they hadn't done the trick in 24 hours.
Thankfully the meds worked almost instantly - which makes me pretty lucky as I've since met plenty of women who've had a much rougher time with acute morning sickness, and ended up hospitalised and attached to a drip for most of their pregnancies.
But this is what I learned from the experience: it's of absolutely no consolation to gleefully proclaim 'Ooh, it must be a girl' when a pregnant woman tells you that she can barely lift her head out of the toilet bowl. Frankly when you're suffering with sickness on that scale you're secretly contemplating ways to end your life and make the endless dry heaving stop, not excitedly sucking it all up as a worthwhile sacrifice for at last getting something you can dress in pink.
Above all, I learned that all day and all night sickness is gruesome and real, and not a figment in the imagination of delicate damsels. Which is why I foam at the mouth and mutter under my breath whenever I hear someone breezily claim to have suffered from morning sickness. If you've had real morning sickness you can barely utter the words without feeling faint at the mere memory.
So if we ever meet and you confess to me that you too have known what it's like to contemplate drowning yourself in the toilet during an all-night pregnancy puke fest then don't be surprised if I clutch you to my bosom, stroke your hair, and whisper in an all-too-earnest tone that I know your pain.
Never mind those 'baby on board badges' that they give out on the tube to pregnant women; us hardcore all day and all night sickness sufferers deserve a flipping medal.
Watch: The Parentdish community talk about their experiences of pregnancy
More:Pregnancy Week By Week
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